An armed teacher was able to stop an alleged attempted kidnapping on a school playground in Ogden, Utah, Tuesday.
“An employee was watching the kids from the inside and observed the suspect walk up to this 11-year-old girl [on the playground] and put his hands on her in an attempt to take her,” Lt. Brian Eynon of the Ogden City Police Department told KTVX-TV.
“He ran outside, the employee did, and confronted the suspect. At that same time, the girl had the ability to pull away from the suspect.”
The teacher quickly ushered the 20 students off the playground and into Lincoln Elementary School, but the 41-year-old suspect pursued them.
According to police, the suspect, Ira Cox-Berry, made his way to the building and tried to punch through a window to get inside.
The teacher, a concealed carry permit holder, then pulled out his firearm while he called the police.
“This employee is protected under the Second Amendment. He followed all policy and procedure at the school, and in this particular case, did everything that he should have done to protect the innocent lives of the children at the school,” Eynon said.
“And in this case, it is likely that a life was saved or injury to a life was prevented due to the actions of this heroic employee.”
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The suspect was taken into custody after a brief struggle because “the suspect was high, high on some type of narcotic,” according to Enyon.
The school district and local police are praising the teacher’s quick actions, calling him “a hero.”
“A teacher intervened when there was a situation that threatened students’ safety. This teacher, this school employee, is a hero. We don’t disagree with that at all,” Ogden School District Communications Director Jer Bates said.
“Yes, it was a very scary situation, something we take very seriously, but it came out with a good ending, meaning no students were physically harmed, no adults were physically harmed, that this was an incident where our emergency response protocols were acted out.”
Counselors were brought to the school to help the students through the trauma they experienced.
“At this time, to the best of our knowledge, the student [who was almost kidnapped] is coping well considering the very traumatic experience that they endured,” Bates said.
Investigators do not believe there is any connection between the suspect and the 11-year-old girl.
Bates confirmed the situation was “not a kidnapping” because everyone was accounted for, according to the Standard-Examiner.
“This teacher, in particular, was very prepared emotionally to confront a suspect he didn’t know, that was most likely on drugs, could be dangerous, could have been armed, and he took it upon himself to protect and be a hero, frankly, for the children who were on scene there when this went down,” Eynon said.
Cox-Berry was booked into the Weber County Jail on one count of child kidnapping with other charges still pending.